BOB HEIDENREICH: Tracking the Trends

Outdoor living is a significant growth area. Embrace it, and grow your sales.

In the previous issue, I discussed how to line your business up for the busy season by using the right preparation techniques and displays. It’s one thing to draw customers to your business, it’s another thing to lock down the sale. While supplying the right products and services can enhance your sales appointments, being well informed about the latest trends can help separate you from the rest of the pack.

It behooves any salesperson to know that when making an appointment, you never want to be the first person the customer sees. In fact, in an ideal situation, you are the last sales appointment. By being the last person the customer talks to before making a final decision, you are able to work with them to finalize what they are truly looking for, and you’re in a prime position to close the sale. On the other hand, if you are not able to be the last appointment, you never want to ask the customer who the other appointments are—it shouldn’t matter about the competition, you’re the expert.

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Since you’re more than likely not going to be the only appointment, you want to approach the sale from a different standpoint. For instance, upon meeting with the customer, I never directly ask the person what decking design he/ she has in mind; I propose what I can do for them. By first recommending a deck design that you specialize in, it gives the customer a fresh, unbiased opinion. After giving your suggestion, you can work with the customer to decide what fits their needs and your expertise.

Yet, there are times where a customer will come into the store looking for a particular product simply for the fact that they want to see it before they decide to purchase it. It’s hard to draw in the sale when the customer is just “looking,” but I often refer the customers to our website. If they do not want to purchase in the store, you have at least created a face-to-face interaction that is more susceptible to an online purchase.

Finally, I want to touch on an emerging trend in which deck builders are given an opportunity to make the sale: the progression of outdoor living spaces. In the past, decks were on a larger scale and people did not want anything more than a sturdy, aesthetically pleasing deck. Now, the trend has progressed into distinct outdoor livings spaces that often include a smaller deck with integrated landscaping elements. Since this is becoming a more common movement, sales appointments will be more successful if you’re knowledgeable about the current themes, colors and materials. Stone and decking materials are now being integrated together, so it’s also best to educate yourself on how the different materials work well with one another.

A crucial part of incorporating landscaping into the deck space is communicating with the landscaper about the project, enabling each of you to coordinate the design together. I have seen a few projects where communication was lost between the deck builder and landscaper, and the deck included not only a safety hazard but was also not built to code. By meeting with the landscaper, you are able to synchronize all aspects of the hardscape and softscape of the project. The finished product will flow effortlessly from the deck to the outdoor living space and will hopefully create an opportunity to grow your business in the future. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to message me at

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